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Assistive Technology for Wandering: Stay at Home Longer

November 8, 2019

Most people we meet at ND Assistive want to age in the home of their choice and avoid a nursing home stay – if at all possible. Of the many calls we receive, wandering or eloping is high on the list of reasons that loved ones with dementia and other disabilities are at risk of nursing home placement.  Even if the person can’t physically leave the home on their own, they may have the tendency to get out of bed or a chair unassisted leading to a fall and, at the very least, a hospital stay.

Fortunately, there are many assistive technology devices to help aid caregivers in the prevention of wandering and tracking of individuals for elopement from chair alarms and door alarms to GPS trackers and motion detection devices. Some of these are of the smart home variety and others have been around since “the cloud” was just a thing that blocked the sun.

All of these devices can help aid caregivers in the prevention of wandering and tracking of individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, autism, and more.  For this blog, we will address alarms, motion sensors, and camera systems. Below are just a few of the devices available.



Do you want your lights to turn on when the person steps out of bed to alert the caregiver they are on the move? There are several ways to set that up using SmartThings, Hue motion sensors, or an inexpensive alternative. Check out this video for how these work together.  A few of the smart motion detectors are below along with some smart alarms.

Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor

  • Monitors motion and other devices with the SmartThings app
  • Receive alerts from SmartThings if Motion Sensor detects movement
  • Can automate connected devices and set them to turn on and off your Motion Sensor detects movement
  • App is available for both iPhone and Android
  • Requires WiFi
  • Price- $21.99
  • Requires a SmartThings Hub $94.87

Small white motion detector

 Samsung SmartThings Multi-Purpose Sensor

  • Monitor doors and windows
  • Monitor temperature and vibration
  • Receive alerts from SmartThings if your Multipurpose Sensor detects that doors and windows have been opened or left open
  • Automate connected devices with SmartThings and set them to turn on or off if your Multipurpose Sensor detects that doors and windows have been opened or left open
  • Requires WiFi
  • Price – $19.99
  • Requires a SmartThings Hub $94.87

Picture of open door with Smart things sensor attachedSmall white door & window sensor

Philips Hue Motion Sensor

  • Turns lights on when motion is detected
  • Control it with the app, your voice, or a physical switch
  • Can be customized to turn on and off at certain times of day (i.e. from sunset to sunrise or any specific time of day) and when certain conditions are met to send an alert to caregiver’s Smartphone
  • The sensor can be set freely anywhere for an optimal detection area or mounted to a wall
  • The device is wireless and battery-powered (2-3 year battery life)
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple Home Kit and Google Assistant
  • Can be paired with other smart home gadgets via the Philips Hue bridge
  • Requires WiFi
  • Price – $39.99

    Small white motion sensor mounted to wall

RING Home Security System

  • Get alerts on your smartphone when doors or windows open or motion is detected
  • Customize and manage Ring Alarm and Doorbell with the app
  • The 5 piece kit includes a base station, contact sensor, motion detector, keypad, and range extender
  • Works with Alexa to arm, disarm, and check the status of your Ring Alarm security system with your voice
  • Get Smart Alerts sent to your phone if Alexa detects the sound of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, or glass breaking when you’re away
  • Price – $189.00 for 5-piece kit

Small white rectangular security system device with keypad mounted on a wallSet of five small white security gadgets, one with keypad of numbers 1-10

Safe Wander Smart Bed Alarm

  • A tiny button sensor is placed on the shirt or garment worn by the patient. The caregiver is alerted via the SafeWander app on their mobile device as soon as the sensor detects the patient getting up.
  • No wires, cords and the caregiver can be alerted anywhere
  • The device can detect the difference between tossing and turning in bed, versus actually getting up
  • Requires an Apple mobile device with iOS 8.0 or newer (iPhone or iPad) or Android mobile device Android 4.3 or newer
  • Requires strong Wi-Fi in your home
  • The battery lasts up to 6 months
  • Price – $199
  • It is good to note that we just tried this product with an individual who is caring for her spouse with dementia. She suffers from arthritis, so removing the small button sensor from his clothing was very difficult for her. She also had difficulty maneuvering the app on her smartphone.

Upper torso of a man in bed with the small round white monitoring device attached to his pajamasSmart phone with small rectangular control monitor and very small round device to clip on garment



When you cannot be with a loved one who has a disability or a parent who is aging, having a video connection with them can be very helpful.  The following devices are just a sample of what is available to get you “smart” connected.

Amazon Echo Show

Echo aka “Alexa” has become a popular device in many homes. The versatility of what this “voice-controlled” device can do is extensive from calling contacts in your phone to controlling your smart home devices, lights, thermostats, and security cameras.

  • Echo is also a wonderful way to check on elderly parents. It can be used to “drop-in” to check on your family member with or without them answering or doing anything. You just say, “Drop in on” and insert the name of the individual’s Echo Show device. They can hear and see you and talk back too.
  • The caregiver can drop in from anywhere by use of their Echo Show or the Amazon app
  • Both devices must give permission in the app
  • The Echo Show currently comes in 3 sizes
  • Price – starts at $85.00

Small black 5 inch rectangular device with screen showing date and time

Amazon Cloud Cam

  • Get notified when Cloud Cam sees activity. Check-in anytime or watch motion clips on the mobile app
  • See clearly in the dark – Night vision lets you detect what’s happening around the clock
  • Two-way audio to check in with the family
  • See up to 30 days of video history
  • Works with Alexa – Just ask Alexa to show your live feed on Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show, or Echo Spot.
  • Get notified when Cloud Cam detects specific sounds: glass breaking, a baby crying, or a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm
  • Price – $113.99

Small round white camera with black face on a base

TP – Link Kasa Indoor Full HD Wi-Fi Security Camera

  • Two-way talk
  • Mount camera anywhere
  • Communicate with people(two-way talk) from anywhere with the built-in microphone and speaker
  • The free app allows you to access the system remotely
  • Set custom activity zones and notifications to get alerts that matter most to you
  • Get activity notifications and watch video
  • Compatible with iOS 9 or above and Android OS 4.4 or above
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa
  • Kasa Cam pairs with Echo Show, so you can use your voice to control it even when your hands are full
  • Infrared night vision lets you see up to 25’ in the dark
  • Cloud-based service allows you to view and download video captures from the Kasa Cam
  • Requires dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Price – $64.99

Small Round black camera on a 4 inch high base

Baby Monitor, WiFi IP Camera 1080P Wireless Security Camera

Baby monitors also serve as inexpensive security cameras to monitor wandering individuals.

  • Monitors movements and has the ability to send notifications to your mobile phone
  • Built-in microphone and speaker to talk to individual
  • Two Way Audio, Motion Detection and Cloud Storage Support
  • Livestream can be accessed via iOS or Android mobile phones
  • Smart Motion Detection with video and 24/7 recording when the SD card is inserted
  • Night vision
  • 4X digital zoom
  • Wide-angle Lens with horizontal &110°vertically rotation range to achieve panoramic viewing
  • Requires 2.4GHz WiFi or Ethernet cable connection
  • Priced at $39.99

Small robot-looking white device with camera on face



Wireless Monitor Bed and Chair Pad

This bed and chair sensor monitor has been around for years and used in nursing homes or care centers. This system has worked well for one of our clients who is caring for her mother with advanced Alzheimer’s.

  • Wireless and cordless bed and chair sensor pads are easy to use for caregivers
  • Alarm alerts caregivers when a wandering individual is attempting to get up and/or exit a doorway
  • Adjustable volume
  • The battery lasts up to one year
  • No WiFi required
  • Price – $169.95

Long rectangular, flat bed pad with sensors imbedded into it setting next to a square white monitor with a red light

Smart Caregiver Economy Wireless Monitor and Motion Sensor

  • Wireless Monitor and Motion Sensor allows for easy monitoring of loved ones getting out of bed or leaving the room
  • Can be used in conjunction with the above alarm or used without the bed alarm
  • Can be used above or by doorways or next to the bed
  • Monitor has adjustable volume (Hi/Lo/Med)
  • Monitor is expandable – can handle up to 6 wireless components
  • No WiFi required
  • Price – $79.95

Small square white monitor with red light on top and small rectangular video camera

Door Alarm with Remote

How The Door Alarm works:

  • When a monitored door is opened, the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver/alarm.
  • Additional receiver/alarms can be purchased and placed in different areas of the house. All of them will sound if any monitored door is opened.
  • For extra safety, use the door alarm in conjunction with a chain lock on an Exit door. This allows the door to open just far enough to set off the alarm, but not enough to let the person exit.
  • No WiFi required
  • Price $49.95

Open door with half of a sensor mounted to the door frame and other piece mounted on door



With the use of assistive technology, caregivers can stay one step ahead of the individual who tends to wander and our homes can become great places to grow up, live, and grow old in.

If you are over the age of 60 and living in North Dakota, ND Assistive’s Senior Safety Program may be able to help you obtain the AT needed to keep your loved ones safely in their homes. Much of the equipment listed above may be available to those who qualify. Please contact our office at 1-800-895-4728 or email us at to start the process or you can download the app on our website. This project is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging, and granted through the North Dakota Department of Human Services, Aging Services Division.

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